By Udit Rai
I can have you talk with the most influential persons of the world, be it Bill Gates, President Obama, Ben Rothschild or even Pacquiao. I’m not a key international player. I’m just a regular 16 year old. I can even have you talk to the deceased; be it Chanakya, Machiavelli, Lincoln or even Mahatma Gandhi. I’m not a mystic. I’m just a regular 16 year old. I even have a time machine with me. Not really. I’m not delusional. I’m just a regular 16 year old; with a replete library of books.
Yes, you got it. By reading, one can teleport themselves into another world with different realities. One can learn from Chanakya, consult with Aristotle, chat with Oscar Wilde, discuss economics with John Maynard Keynes; and joke with Groucho Marx; without moving a muscle. This is the beauty of reading; the deceased can come to life through the pages of a book. One can learn the lessons that the greats of history themselves had to learn after immense anguish, great struggle and terrible suffering only by their mere iteration in a book; perhaps even in the words of the greats themselves! Forgive me, but I do not think I can express the magnitude of this fact by mere words. There is an entire universe of knowledge waiting to submit to you in its entirety. In this way, reading makes one more knowledgeable (and this is a gross understatement). It is due to this fact that the Delhi govt has launched an initiative called the Reading Mela: Wherein the govt shall make available many books of many genres at a selected community centre (for every community in Delhi); where parents and children may go and find access to all kinds of books.
Every great figure of history has had a penchant for reading; be it Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, every single has had an interest in reading. Consider the current President of the USA; Barack Obama, is currently the busiest man in the world; and yet not only reads avidly but also shares his reading list with the general public. It is obvious that there are tremendous benefits to reading. One very significant one is that reading increases the depth of thinking. Consider it for a moment: witnessing a different realm; with different backgrounds, stories, mindsets, prejudices; and then assessing the actions of each of character and relating it with his motives, his ambitions; which are fundamentally linked with his background, it demands a lot of depth and understanding of psychology. In this way, Reading helps one think deeper.
Let us talk of fiction. Like mentioned above, reading a fiction book immerses one into a new reality altogether. With different surroundings, different storylines, different plot twists, different ambitions guiding different characters, and each character’s respective backgrounds shaping his/her ambitions, their actions, and the emotions each attempts to convey; reading a fiction book can be quite helpful in increasing a person’s EQ/EI (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence). In fact, it has been noted that avid readers are more empathetic, and more understanding of subtlety than non-readers. In this way, reading helps connect.
Reading different works by different writers exposes us to different cultures, different mindsets and different psychologies. Each writer, each culture; in fact each person has their own respective outlook towards life, and distinct interpretations of the same events. This exposes us to different ways of expression; different words, different phrases and distinct idioms. These expand ways of thinking, interpreting, and expressing. Valuable processes; those that make each person distinct, that provide each person their substance. Reading helps increases vocabulary, increases knowledge of phrases and idioms and so on. In this way, Reading makes one more verbose.
We all know about the SAT, ACT or GRE. These are the competitive exams that decide the future of students who wish to go to US University in the US. In order to get admission in to a good college; marks are necessary. And in order to go to one of the best colleges, and by doing so automatically set one’s life on a road to happiness, prosperity, and greatness; every single mark counts. The way this fact is linked to reading is that a huge proportion of marks come from the language section; which is dependent on vocabulary and writing skills. The verbosity acquired from reading might just prove to be the difference between getting admission in Yale or a local, run-down college. This isn’t an embellishment. That is how important it really is. In this way, reading can get you admission into the world’s best universities.
As mentioned before, when one reads, they are exposed to new characters, with distinct mindsets, philosophies, backgrounds and ambitions guiding them in their speech and behavior. When reading about the actions of any character, one has to automatically relate them to all of these. Thus, Reading taxes the memory of the reader. As we know, the mind follows a use it or lose it system. This system works exactly as it sounds. If any function is not being carried out regularly, the mind discards its mechanisms required for that function. In this way, Reading helps memory.
When one reads different ways of expression, different events happening, distinct ways of carrying them out; it increases the scope of the mind in many different ways. The mind of the reader can thus think in many ways that a mind of a non-reader cannot. This gives the reader a competitive edge not only in work; but in all aspects of life. It enhances the reader to an incredible extent. It makes him more innovative, more practical. The ideas that the reader has already read of may come as a complete surprise to non-readers; and his exposure to various ideas increases his span of thought. In this way, Reading makes one more creative.
In today’s technology-based world, there are millions of distractions a person faces every single day. Whether it be a notification on Facebook, a new follower on Instagram or so on; there are so many distractions one cannot help but fall prey some time or later. And so, the average person drifts from work to Facebook to texting, to WhatsApp to interacting with co-workers and back to work within a time span of 5 minute. This is similar to behavior shown by patients suffering from ADD. However, this kind of behavior makes it impossible to read a book. Readers have given up this kind of behavior, for it intervenes in the satisfaction and relief that they obtain by reading. In this way, reading increases focus and concentration.
In today’s life, it is all about juggling between relationships, work, friends, or countless other issues modern life presents us with. This inevitably increases the load of stress placed on a person’s shoulders. But it is impossible for a person to transport himself to another realm with all this stress on his back. People have to lose the weight to transport themselves into the universe the book projects them into. This reduces cortisol, a stress hormone responsible for high amounts of adrenaline, weight gain and acidity among many other disorders. In this way, reading makes one healthier.
So; as we have seen so far-
1. Reading makes one healthier
2. Reading increases focus and concentration
3. Reading makes one more creative
4. Reading helps memory
5. Reading makes one more eloquent
6. Reading helps in connecting with other people
7. Reading increases depth of thought
8. Reading can help get admission in the world’s best universities.
And these are but a few of many benefits.
So, dear reader of this article, what do you plan to read after this?
About the Author
Udit, born in Washington DC is a student of Grade XI in DPS Greater Noida, in Delhi NCR (India). At the age of 9 years, he was awarded the coveted Microsoft Office Specialist Certification in MS PowerPoint & at the age of 13, he was awarded Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Level Certification in MS Office 2010 version. He is probably the youngest MOS Master in the world. At the age of 11 years, he authored a non-fiction book on Sharks- “Sharks- Emperors of the Sea”. He is an active blogger since the age of 12.